While in many ways we at Cal State Monterey Bay celebrate our legacy as the former Fort Ord, there is one very visible aspect of that legacy that impedes our university’s progress.
Of course I am referring to the remaining military-related structures on CSUMB property. The abandoned buildings are both an eyesore and a potential safety hazard and they undermine the pride we all feel about our growing campus.
So, it was no surprise that the line in my Investiture speech that received the most applause concerned that issue. Earlier this month, the CSU Board of Trustees approved a budget proposal that addresses a number of deferred-maintenance projects system-wide, including the full removal of the former base buildings on our campus.
The proposal would support a bond issue to fund $750 million to $800 million in deferred-maintenance projects. The money is sorely needed. While we are, of course, most familiar with our own situation, the shortage of capital funding as a result of the economic downturn has had an impact on every CSU campus.
At this point, this funding is just part of the budget plan approved by the Board of Trustees. We will know more about the specifics and timing when the Legislature considers the budget next spring.
Fortunately, I believe there is a real understanding, on the part of Chancellor Timothy White and other CSU officials, about our pressing need to remove blighted buildings. If we are to achieve our goals as a growing campus, we simply must move forward on this.
We estimate that removal of the remaining 78 buildings would cost $30 million and are hopeful it will be accomplished in the next three to five years.
Of course, not all of the blighted buildings are on CSUMB property. The cities of Marina and Seaside also face blight removal issues. Perhaps, though, an improving economy will create revenues that will allow those efforts to move forward as well.
San Jose State protests: I am certain that all of us in the campus community who have read of the alleged hate crimes at San Jose State are both alarmed and dismayed at the reported behaviors. I would like to echo the statement of my fellow president Mohammad Qayoumi of San Jose State that such behavior cannot and will not be tolerated in any community of learning. I extend my best wishes to our fellow CSU campus as San Jose students, faculty and staff seek to heal the wounds opened by this incident.
Investiture and Day of Service: I want to restate my sincere appreciation for all the work that went into staging the Investiture and all the events surrounding it, including the Day of Service. I know such events are major undertakings, and they came in the midst of a typically busy academic year. Still, the events team, University Development, the Service Learning Institute and volunteers from across campus truly rose to the occasion and delivered a world-class, polished, and joyous celebration of our university. I am proud to be the president of a campus that can handle such a challenge with such grace and style.
PI reception: Wednesday, I had the opportunity to speak to a reception for Cal State Monterey Bay’s principal investigators and the support staff that helps make them successful. Despite a difficult funding environment – marked by budget cuts, the sequester and the government shutdown – our researchers continue to excel. Our new public grant awards for fiscal year 2013 totaled $13.1 million, a 23 percent increase over last year.
The good work of our faculty members makes a difference in their disciplines, for our community and for our students. Their success should be recognized, and applauded.
Holiday season: With classes dismissed for the Thanksgiving holiday week, many members of our university community will be taking time off and visiting family and friends both close to and far from home. I hope you all can find time to relax, refresh and enjoy the holiday. And travel safely.
Eduardo M. Ochoa
President, Cal State Monterey Bay